Last night, our dishwasher broke. Gasp!!!! It was happily finishing its rinse cycle and moving on to dry when Sophia pushed a button. Whatever button she pushed made it stop. Which would be fine except it had a bunch of water still in the bottom and so when I tried to start it up again on a quick rinse cycle or something to get it to drain out and dry the dishes, it didn't want to start back up. Nothing I did would make it work. Now that I think about it, perhaps my repeatedly kicking it might have been its final undoing. You see, ever since we moved into this house over 5 years ago, it has had some issues. First of all, it is INCREDIBLY LOUD!!!! *imagine me shouting this last statement to make my point* Sometimes it smells weird. It doesn't always start when you press the START button. Forgive me for being so spoiled but I thought when you press START, it would..well..you know...start. Ha, how naive am I?? In fact, we had to do some serious pleading, some punching and a magical little dance to coax it into starting. Every. Single. Time. (Well, almost every time.)
So, do I grieve the death of my dishwasher or shall I rejoice in its final passing? I mean, after all I loathed that thing. Yes, loathed it. Such a strong word for an inanimate object that was designed and created to make my life easier. However, I hated it with such passion, especially every single time I hit that cursed START button and the light on the "normal wash" would go out and nothing else would happen. Nothing. I loathed it because it did not, in fact, make my life easier, but for the most part, harder. It added to my often-scathing sense of discontentment over other mishaps in our old house and every occasion in which I loaded it proved to be a constant reminder that I would have to listen to its horrible screeching groaning noises as it made its way through wash, rinse, dry.
What's that you say? For the love of all things normal, why didn't I buy a new one to save myself the insanity of listening to that awful noise and having to perform mystical rituals to get it to even start?
Ahh....I'll tell you why. And it will be a nice lead-in for my top 4 reasons we won't be getting a new one right now.
To be honest, in our very materialistic, consumerist and lazy society, it is the ideal situation to just buy a new one when we find our current *thing* useless. Or are just simply over it. It doesn't matter if we don't NEED it. It doesn't even matter if we have the money for it; there's always credit, right? Well, as a large family (growing larger every few years) who own our own business and are very, very conscious of being wise stewards of all we possess (did I say very?), it did not make sense for us to just run out and buy a new one. I can almost say it would be morally unconscionable for us to do so just because it was an annoyance.
So what about now that it's actually broken and almost completely useless? I still say nay, we will not be buying a new one. Here's why:
# 1. For practical reasons, first. Not only do we not have the extra cash to spend on a quality dishwasher because we just came out of a snow-less winter where we earned almost no money, and brought in only a small % of our seasonal monthly income from residual payments our clients owed us from last year (a very wise contract move on my husband's part), but I refuse to even put something like that on credit. It's not a necessity and over the last 7 + years of having a family, we've learned a thing or two from our gracious Father in heaven about not robbing Peter to pay Paul. Do we remember this every single time we want- or think we need- something? No. But when it comes to a large purchase and most unimportant things in general, we do. And we'd like to stick to that as much as possible.
*By the way here is a good definition of necessity. Pay close attention to #1. Indispensable. Is a dishwasher indispensable? No. It's really not. Not like food, shelter, clothes... So says thousands of years of people who had nothing other than their own two hands and some dirty river- or well- water...which leads to my # 2 reason we won't be getting another one right now.
# 2. The invention of the earliest dishwasher was in 1850 by Mr. Joel Houghton. Probably tired of his wife complaining of having to wash dishes while he smoked his cigar and read the paper after dinner, he decided to embark on the monumental task of appeasing her and other housewives across the nation. (Of course this is my assumption with a little bit of humor added in.) But his model was far inferior to what is known today as the automatic dishwasher, especially since it was manual and did little more than splash water onto dirty dishes, which inevitably would still have to be washed in a more effective way afterward. But it was a start. After another man took a turn at the dishwasher-inventing wheel, in 1887 a woman..yes, a woman - imagine that! - invented what would evolve into the very first automatic dishwasher. Her name was Josephine Cochrane. Now, I have to say here that wikipedia (where I retrieved some of my info) mentions that she did not do her own dishes and decided to invent a dishwasher so her servants wouldn't chip her fine china. But hey, whatever. Anyway, my point is that the dishwasher was not invented out of necessity. It was invented to make *someone's* life easier. Am I complaining about that? No! Do I think dishwashers are stupid? Absolutely not. But what they are is a convenience. A luxury. NOT something I need to survive. I would rather take the money I might spend on a dishwasher and use it to buy extra gallons of that fantastically healthy raw milk we drink, or the next season's clothes for my ever-growing children. Food and clothes are necessities. Dishwashers are not.
# 3. The third reason why we won't get a new one is because I like washing dishes by hand. This might come as a shock but I really do actually enjoy it. One of my favorite ladies, Judy Dudich, recently wrote an article about praying our way through our daily chores. It is a beautiful insight into her world and why and how she takes the time to pray while she is doing her housework. In her article she writes about doing dishes:
"I'm thankful for the luxurious dishwasher we have, indeed. But, many times, I choose, instead, to do dishes by hand, so that I can pray. [emphasis mine]Sometimes, we neglect our prayer life because we're so busy that we feel that taking time to pause and pray would be selfish or unproductive. However, we MUST do dishes, right? Thus, I have found the perfect excuse for taking time for myself to pray! I have to go and do the dishes! Oh, the world-problems and family crises I have solved while dipping my hands into the warm sudsy water."
Judy goes on to explain the different aspects of dish-washing that she is thankful for. I completely agree with all of it! Taking the time out to pray while doing dishes is such a huge blessing. There's something about the task of loading them into the dishwasher that seems to involve much of my brain capacity where I am rendered completely inept at thinking of or doing/saying anything else at the same time. But soaking my hands in a sink of hot soapy water seems to allow my thoughts - and especially my prayers to flow, unadulterated as the calm water somehow seems to wash the dishes itself.
Another thing is that I have a very fond memory of my mother singing or humming (sometimes hymns, sometimes other favorite music of hers) while she did the dishes. For some reason, our dishwasher growing up was constantly breaking down but instead of complaining, my mother washed dishes for all nine people in our house with a joyful heart as she sung or hummed her way through. I wonder how much grace and peace was bestowed upon her all those years from our loving God who most undoubtedly delighted in her singing and her joy. I seek to emulate the attitudes of both of these amazing women- mothers of large families who have seen their share of difficult times- praying and singing my way through; finding peace, resolve and resolution at the bottom of a sink full of dirty dishes.
# 4. Ok, there is no # 4. Not really. I think # 3 is my favorite, not to mention most pertinent one and there isn't really much to top that. I can only say that our decision to not run out and buy a new dishwasher has already been a huge blessing even after only 1 day. And I dream of other blessings coming along in the future. I imagine the "you wash, I'll dry" exchange will happen more than once on this road of dishwasherlessness (yes I made that word up).. between my husband and I who would absolutely delight in the time we could spend working together and acting as a team. We work so well as a team, especially when it comes to house stuff. Also, Angelina usually likes to help with dishes and I think this will be such an incredible learning op. for her to be able to take part in the primitive nature of washing dishes by hand! She just started washing the bigger nondishwasher-safe dishes a few months ago and having to do all the dishes by hand will definitely move her to veteran status more quickly; not to mention the fact that if I impart to her my desire to use the time wisely to draw closer to the Lord and find peace, perhaps she will resolve to do the same. What a blessing that would be for both of us!